Post news RSS One Year of Development on Cavern Crumblers

This article describes some of my thoughts and ideas over the course of the last year involving my design decisions for Cavern Crumblers.

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Cavern Crumblers started, like any other game, as an idea: A local multiplayer shooter, like TowerFall: Ascension, that felt like playing a platformer, like Super Meat Boy.

Cavern Crumblers was mainly created by one person, me, over the course of exactly 1 year, with the occasional help of a friend on some design and other little things. We both work full-time jobs outside of game development and worked on Cavern Crumblers on nights and weekends, enjoying creating something that we just wanted to be created.

The first thing we implemented was a quick prototype for how we thought the game should feel to play. It was a simple program that just included some platforms and let the player run and jump around the level. To give it some uniqueness, we decided to add in a mechanic that destroyed parts of the platforms as you shot them.

We spent days on the jump physics alone, and ended up with the movement system shown above. We were so happy with this movement system that it stayed mostly the same for the entire development of the game and through today.

After getting the controls and physics down and getting the game to a point that we felt was "right", we moved forward with starting to implement multiplayer and getting an art style, starting with the level background and tiles.

Once we implemented the multiplayer and art style, the game was starting to take shape.

Next up was implementing more art and adding some "juice" to the game.

We added animations, muzzle flash, bullet impact, and some debris when you destroy a tile. All these tings added up and added a bit of "juice" to the game that we felt was very needed. But it wasn't enough. Since then, we've added a lot more juice to death animations, tile destruction, grenade explosions, and more. We try to add lots of little bits of juice scattered across all elements of the game and try not to make anything obnoxious or overdone.

Once getting the rounds implemented, we started play testing and making small fixes here and there. From play testing, we discovered a couple main things. There was no reason not to be shooting your gun all the time, which led to an insane amount of bullets on the screen at all times. There was no punishment for holding down the fire button 100% of the time, so what's the point of even having a fire button in the game, right?

We decided to implement a burst weapon instead of a fully automatic weapon, in which the gun shot a burst of 4 bullets, and required a cooldown of about 1 second. To also help with this, we implemented a dodge, which lasts just long enough for players to dodge an entire burst of bullets if timed correctly. We found this makes the players have to choose more wisely when they'll want to fire their weapon and when they'll want to try to dodge an enemy attack. Successfully dodging an enemy attack gives you a huge advantage since the enemy won't be able to fire their weapon for another second.

The other thing we discovered was that grenades just weren't really too useful. We added a couple things to help this. Mainly, we made the grenades much bigger. We also made the grenades destroy anything in its radius for the entire duration of the explosion. With this, you can actually use grenades strategically in a couple different ways. One example is using it as a shield almost, protecting you from incoming bullets, because enemy bullets would get destroyed when they would run into the explosion. The last thing we did with grenades was to make them throw out deadly debris when they destroyed tiles. The debris causes quite a bit of chaos for any surrounding players and also changes the landscape of the map slightly when the debris lands.

After these changes, and some more "juice", what we ended up with was a pretty good representation of the final game, as shown below.

There is still a lot we want to do with Cavern Crumblers but overall I'm pretty happy with where it ended up. We dplan on continuing to improve the game as time goes on and we get more feedback from players. Originally, we had wanted to create a simple game that had very fun and strong core gameplay and could be easily be expanded with some unique features in the future. In my opinion, we succeeded with part one, and now it's time to start thinking about those unique features we have been wanting to add for so long.

Moving forward we'd also like to improve many other aspects of the game. I think the main weak point of the game is the artwork right now, and that will be something we are constantly working to improve forever. In particular, we feel that the death animations could be improved drastically. Other than that, we also want to add something more to the game to make it truly unique. In my opinion, playing the game provides a unique experience that other couch multiplayer games don't provide, but I don't think it comes through in the marketing.

Cavern Crumblers is released for Windows now. Mac and Linux versions are currently being worked on.

You can vote for Cavern Crumblers on Greenlight at Steamcommunity.com

Or you can purchase the game on itch.io at Asymptotic-games.itch.io

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